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Have you, or are you about to launch a new website? Does your site have a lot of referring websites? Is your site in a lot of local directories? These are all reasons to pay special attention to 404 errors before and after you launch your new website.

Recently we had a customer who had a lot of retail locations that were represented on their website. The old site url for a location looked like this:

http://www.example.com/chicago/10157-s-main-st

The new website url to the same page looked like this.

http://www.example.com/location-specific-details/?location=227

The problem is the old url was out on the internet with variations in the url. In some cases these were capital letters or even a slash at the end of the url. When creating 301 redirects, this might require us to create two or even three different 301 redirects for the same page. This is very inefficient and creates a larger chance of error.

There is a better way.

In the 301 redirect WordPress plugin we use, Redirection, there is the ability to use regular expressions (regex). These regular expressions are characters that tell our redirection tool what to look for in the url and then return the correct result based on that string of characters.

In this case, we want to make sure that the letters in the url are case insensitive (?i) and that the url will redirect with or without the slash at the end [/]?$ Below is what the “source url” would look like with the regex expressions.

(?i)/chicago/10157-s-main-st[/]?$

This is what it would look like in the Redirection tool itself.

This simple change helped us cut this customer’s 404 errors in half in the second week of launch. This has lead to a better user experience and helped minimize the impact to organic search results.

Work with your Internet Marketing Consultant to make sure you are getting the most out of your 301 redirects when you launch a new website. It can be the difference between a strong launch of a new website or one that will have a negative effect on your business.

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